Whisk broomDust in India is interesting.

No, really it is.

It’s not like dust I’m familiar with from anywhere else. It’s heavy and red and needs actively scooping to remove, rather than the light dusting action you use in other countries.

And before you start saying that dust is basically the same everywhere – let me tell you about Nigeria. When my father lived there, the whole family was often together for Christmas.

At that time of year, it’s the Harmattan – the dry season – and one of the most distinct features is the wind that blows in from the Sahara; it’s full of sand particles.

It’s amazing really, everything is hazy… and gritty. Really gritty. Every surface needs sweeping clear every day. I can remember trailing my hand across the top of the car that’d be cleaned the day before – and there being handfuls of sand on the top. Actual sand, like you were at the beach. And there was enough of it that moving it, felt more like the way you might scoop snow off a car in colder climates during the winter.

The air was so gritty, I couldn’t wear my contact lenses. It made my eyes ache and I looked like an albino rabbit most Christmases there. Which is always a good look.

It’s cold during the mornings of Harmattan, but once the sun’s up it’s hot, it’s dry and it’s gritty. Not unsurprisingly, the divorce rate goes through the roof during the dry season – particularly when it’s Ramadan as well. Lets face it, no food, and hot, dry and gritty is a tough combination whatever your religion.

But you could see the Harmattan in the air. When you looked into the distance, you could see the haze and you could feel the sand settling on your skin and even on your eyelashes.

Not here, not in India – you can’t see the dust in the air, or feel it on the skin. It’s just there. Secretly moving about. So here, dust, great huge wodges of it, sneaks in and just accumulates. Everywhere.

And to deal with all this vast quantity of heavy red dust – there’s a great deal of sweeping goes on in this country. Wherever you go in the country you’ll see people sweeping. And if I might add, completely ineffectual sweeping at that, as it’s mostly done with whisk brooms…

I have a bit of a thing about whisk brooms. They look great – that’s one in the picture above – and the principal’s lovely. People look very graceful using them – but they are probably the worlds least effective broom, all they do is disturb the dust into the air vertically, and so they don’t in any way actually remove it, as the majority of it just lands again.

So all over the country there are ladies – it’s usually ladies – diligently whisking away and achieving, frankly, sod all on the dust removal front. Which rather brings me to the point of this little series of posts… but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Lets back track a smidge – to this fact; dust must be dealt with, you can’t ignore it here.  Even if you’ve never had any sort of interest in dust anywhere else – in India there is just too much of it. It must be ‘dealt’ with.

Madam - modern whisk broom

And in my case, I have most of the windows open most of the time as I’m not a big fan of air conditioning. I find it too noisy, too cold and too hard on the planet. So I prefer a nice open window and a ceiling fan.

All well and good. And eco points for me. But all these open windows, do mean that as a result, my house is particularly full of the red dust of India. Lots of it. Everywhere.

Now as I’ve mentioned before I have a maid. A professional dust remover if you will, an expert in such things. Someone with years of experience in dust management… you’d think.

And there we have the nub of the next post – my maid and her lack of interest in dust…


This is Part One of a Three part series

Read Part Two here – She’s actually FAKING dusting.

Read Part Three here – Too much dust, Madam

Apparently I have a great deal to say about dust. And I’m not afraid to do so. Oh no, I’m going to speak out about dust in this country!